Bhaktapur and Durbar Square
Bhaktapur, or "city of devotees", is a living museum and is part of the heritage of humanity. There are still plenty of monuments of the Malla period reflecting the skill of the craftsmen of that time, although the 1934 earthquake has destroyed more than 4000 temples and other buildings of historical interest.
Bodhnath is the largest Stupa of Nepal. Built on a terrace, surrounded by houses and monasteries, the huge stupa is formed of concentric terraces, following the shape of the sacred Mandala. At its base, there is a circle of 108 Buddha images and 147 niches containing prayer wheels.
Bungamati and Khokana
These twin villages date from the 16th century and are located south of the valley, after a dotted Chaityas (small stupas) track. Bungamati is the winter residence of Machhendranath Rato, the patron god of Patan. You can stop between the two villages at the shrine of Karya Binayak. At Khokana old oil presses can still be seen working in th homes.
Budhanilkantha is located 9 km north of Kathmandu, at the foothills of Shivapuri. Here you can see the half submerged black stone statue of Vishnu sleeping on a bed of snakes. Every day, pilgrims cover the statue with offerings of rice and flowers.
19 km east of Kathmandu, near Bhaktapur, is the temple of Changunarayan. Rebuilt in 1702 after a fire, you will discover the oldest known inscription in the valley dating to 467 AD. The inscriptions relate the many talents of the Licchavi King, Madeva 1 who was the first notable historical figure of Nepal. Around the large temple courtyard are erected many stone statues dating from the 4th to the 9th century which was the golden age of Newari art which only produced masterpieces of a religious character.
All the water of the Kathmandu Valley is evacuated through the hovar Gorge. Legend has it that Manjushree, a holy man, cut the mountain with his magic sword to clear the valley which then a lake. Atop the hill is a nice little temple of Adinath with superb views over the mountain range. At the entrance of the gorge, there is a Ganesh temple whose main representation of Ganesh is a large naturally carved stone.
Situated at the bottom of a dark valley and at the confluence of two rivers, the sanctuary of Dashinkali is one of the most spectacular temples dedicated to Kali. Every Tuesday and Saturday there are ritual sacrifices to fertility and female reproductive power. Temple priests decapitate animals with a Khukri (Nepalese machete), and soak the statue of the goddess with blood.
30km east of Kathmandu on the edge of the valley and the road to Tibet, Dhulikhel offers a magnificent panoramic view of the Himalayas, especially at sunrise and sunset. Along the many paths that meander northward along the ridgeline, we can closely observe the life of Nepalese villages.
Kathmandu is the capital of Nepal. The town has existed for over two thousand years. Legend has it that it was named after the "Kasthamandup" building of the Durbar Square, which was built in the trunk of a single tree. This place is a major landmark of the city with its many monuments including the famous temple of the Living Goddess "Kumari". An early morning visit, or evening, will offer an overview of cultures and life styles of Hindu and Buddhist inhabitants.
7 km south of Kathmandu, a long flight of steps leads to the village of Kirtipur which is perched between twin hill summits. Steep paths lead to the red brick houses arranged in terraces. The villagers dressed in traditional costumes still work with old spinning wheels. They are renowned for their strength and bravery in battle and have victoriously fought many battles against the invaders.
36 km east of Kathmandu, the small resort of Nagarkot is nestled atop the hills at an altitude of 2099 m. This is definitely the best place to admire the snowy peaks from Mount Everest to Mount Annapurna. On clear days, the mountains seem to be within hands reach.
At the confluence of the rivers Punyamati and Roshi Khola, Panauti was once an important link on the trade route from Tibet. Its origins date back to the pre-Lichhavi period. Today the banks of the river are covered with shrines and places of cremation. On the other side of the river, Brahmayani temple has been renovated with the help of French experts. The Mahadev temple Indreshwar is a Newari 15th century building with remarkable carvings, especially on the struts of the roof.
Located 5 km east of Kathmandu on the banks of the Bagmati, holy river, Pashupatinath, dedicated to Shiva, is famous for its rich architecture, but access to the site is forbidden to non-Hindus. The great temple with three golden roof was built in 1696. The dharmasalas (hostels for pilgrims) and the cremation ghats (platforms) cremations are on the banks of the Bagmati.
Patan and Durbar Square
Patan, also known as Lalitpur, is the city of fine arts. Most of the people of the city are Buddhists. The Krishna Mandir, Hiranya Varna Mahavihar, Kumbheshwar, Jagatnarayan and the Mahabouddha are the major temples of interest to be visited in Patan.
At the top of a small forested hill, west of Kathmandu stands the great stupa of Swayambhunath, an ancient site over 2500 years old. Built according to specific rules, this stupa is a model of its kind. Its structure symbolizes the different steps that lead to nirvana, itself represented by the umbrella in the top. From all sides are stretched strings of colorful prayer flags, carrying holy words into the wind.